Nigerian Basketball

Everyone who knows me well knows that I have a bit of a slight obsession with basketball. Ok, maybe slight might be an under exaggeration. I enjoy the game so much so that I even had a little stint playing for my university team in Leicester and a team of wonderful ladies in London for yet another brief stint. My move to Toronto during the articling experience barely left me with enough time to contemplate my sanity, yet I managed to get involved and play with the Toronto Sports and Social club for a year. In the past summer months, it won’t be unusual to see me and my poor old knees attempting to keep up with the young neighborhood kids who emphatically state, “We will not take it easy on you because you are a girl”.


My instagram and twitter feeds are filled with pages that promote basketball on all levels. I mean I support the CIS, Go Ravens! I watch NCAA games, I watch Raptor Games, I watch Raptors 905 games, and I was at almost all the basketball games during the PAN AM Games. I would have been at the PARANPAN Games but I had to travel during that time frame. I watch the FIBAS games that’s from FIBAS U-18 down to FIBAS Africa. I have a love affair with Mexico’s Doce Guerreros. On a random weekend, you’re most likely going to find me watching a game or giggling over stat’s scores. As if that isn’t bad enough, I decided to combine my professional life with my love of sport. That is right my practice, new as it is, encompasses Business, Entertainment and Sport’s law.


One of the accounts I follow on twitter, are @Bballnaija and@AbamsaQuaf. A post was put up by the latter on instagram. It was a map that showed the states that are to be expected to play in the 2016 DSTV/NBBF Basketball League. The former set up a post bemoaning that fact that only 33% of all states in the nations are involved in the league. The poster also mentioned the positive facts that there were other leagues that are running and that there is a successful model already in place as other teams run successful programs.


As a Nigerian who can count on the number of fingers I have, the years I have spent in the country, it hit me that sure I can name different basketball leagues in North America, Europe on a professional or semi-professional basis, yet I am shamefully not as versed in the leagues from my home country.  Yes I follow the national team especially the women as I am a bid advocate for women in sports, however I know next to nothing about the national leagues as they stand. A quick chat with other Nigerians who fall into the same category as me shows that this is indeed a pressing problem. Now instead of sitting down and bemoaning the fact that no one has brought the information and news as I like it to my attention, I will endeavor to educate myself and others.


Trying to find information online is sometimes an exercise in futility so I have decided to take it upon myself to do a break down. From what I understand from the two twitter handles and some research, the NBBF (Nigerian Basketball Federation) acts as an overseeing and governing body for basketball in Nigeria. The top league aka premier league is built up by the Savannah Conference and the Atlantic Conference. A majority from the Savannah Conference encompasses states from the North and Middle belt while the Atlantic Conference seems to be based mostly from Lagos, a team respectively in Ibadan, Illorin and Asaba.


The poster from the @bballnaija handle had quite a few questions. The only question I will attempt to answer is the last question which was left pretty much as an aside to the post. That question however is the only one that I am capable of answering.


His question was threefold, the first was to who if anyone, should be responsible for creating and monitoring fan bases, the second was who would be responsible for the organization around ticket sales and finally who should be responsible for the organization of the standard for basketball arenas.


  1. Fan bases


To an extent, Nigeria is very lucky because we have the opportunity to have foresight on issues that can or cannot work. We have the unique opportunity of undertaking our organization after many successful leagues in other countries have done so. With this foresight and from my experience from travelling, watching and organizing events with relation to sport, I believe the best way to go about creating and monitoring fan bases would be to create a governing body. Whether it be in form of an association, an organization or a board of directors. This first step is imperative. Once this organizational structure has been set up, then next step to deal with this question at hand is to create a position of the director of communication. Now the title director of communication can be replaced with special events expert, social media and marketing coordinator or a social communication analyst. The individuals that work in this position would be mandated to create social media campaigns, giveaways, twitter campaigns, create advertising models, reach out to sponsors, and promote the group on other forms of traditional media. A key area would be through advertising in various schools and community colleges. Now this campaigns need to be relatively uniform and have the same overview. To start of successfully, I believe that the individual and individuals should work with the overseeing body to cover creating a framework for all the teams. Once, the framework is created, then the work can be delegated to a worker in each team, to carry on the fan base building work.


  1. Tickets sales.


There is a lot that to be said about uniformity. It would be folly to allow the teams to set tickets prices, conditions and terms individually which could lead to huge discrepancies. There is also however merit in allowing each time to determine what the costs should be because the teams on the ground are aware of the several factors that involve whether or not the ticket prices will be attractive. The Organizational body, should create a price grid for the regular season that allows the teams to choose either a higher price point or a lower price point or even once in the middle. This way there is oversight but the teams are given autonomy. The prices set for special events or the playoffs should be regulated by the individual teams. The poster’s anecdote about travelling to Kwara and staying at a hotel can be a part of this price regulation. The team can state that those who stay at a particular hotel for instance, get a discount on their ticket. Avenues like this opens doors of mutually beneficial economic relationships.


  1. Standards of basketball arenas


Uniformity is a theme that has been running through this article and I believe once again is key in this area. Most leagues have different courts even the NBA and FIBA court dimensions differ. The key thing is that all the associations or member groups that play within a league have the same court dimensions. Now out of personal preference, I would recommend the NBA court dimensions because it has more applicability as it used in the NCAA, WNBA where a significant amount of Nigerian Athletes play ball uses the same dimensions. Yes, international games and a significant amount of Nigerians play in European leagues. There was a move back in 2013 for CIS teams to adopt FIBA rules. Any set of rules with regards to court dimensions work well as long as it is uniform across the board.




Here is to the first of my random musings that could educate and promote Nigerian basketball or if I am immensely lucky perhaps one of my suggestions can inform policy.



Blessing Gana

Barrister and Solicitor




Aretha Franklin: The Not so sweet sound of Amazing Grace


Aretha Franklin the Queen of Soul, filed an emergency injunction with the aim to step the scheduled screenings of the documentary “Amazing Grace” that was to be shown at the Telluride Film Festival and subsequently the Toronto International Film Festival and the Chicago Film Festival.

History of the Documentary

The content of the documentary were stills shot of a concert performed by Ms. Franklin at the New Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California in 1972. The performance was shot by the late Sydney Pollack. The shoot itself back in 1972 was plagued by sound issues, it has been stated that the project was abandoned over the years due to the fact that the sound clappers boards which would have synchronised the sounds with the still images were not present during the shoot.

The film was then shelved because at the time, there was no technology available to properly sync the audio and video. Years later, after discussions with Mr. Pollack, Mr. Allan Elliot, a producer acquired the rights to the film from Warner Brothers and used the available technology to sync the movie with digital technology.

There has been significant dispute over the ownership of the footage over the years. Ms. Franklin sued the film produced Mr. Elliot in 2011. Mr. Elliot made representations that he would release the film but reneged as Ms. Franklin discovered that the film was to be released during the Telluride Film Festival. Upon that knowledge, Ms. Franklin applied for a legal injunction and received one barring the release of the film during the festivals.

It has been suggested by Ms. Franklin that contract signed in 1972 is clear in that it explicitly states that under said agreement, the documentary would “not be publicly or commercially released without the consent of Ms. Franklin”.

Mr. Elliot on the other hand claims that he is of the opinion that Franklin’s “personal services” contract with Warner Bros.’ film studio and record label,  gave the studio full rights to the material filmed in the church which was subsequently acquired by him.

Pertinent Questions about Civil Procedure in the US



The court documents show that the papers were filed with the District Court of Colorado.

Why choose the district court?

  1. The United States Code Title 28 Chapter 85 Section 1332 (a) where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs


  1. (a)(1) When it comes to citizens of different states.
  2. Franklin and her legal team stated that they sought jurisdiction in Colorado because Mr. Elliott traveled to Colorado for the planned screening at Telluride, and asserted that he was attempting to generate interest in a distribution deal for the film while he was there.
  3. There is a matter to be dealt with that deals with federal statute (this will be discussed later on).


What is an injunction?

An injunction is what is known as an equitable remedy. An equitable remedy as opposed to a legal remedy is one based on the principle of fairness that provides flexible responses that either compel or prohibit an act. Legal remedies on the other hand are used by the judicial officers to enforce a right or impose a penalty.

There are several types of injunctions namely a prohibitive, mandatory, permanent and interlocutory injunction. Now even though it has been mentioned that an injunction is an equitable remedy it will be only granted when there is support that the plaintiff has legal or equitable rights in the matter before the court. For the purpose of this article, it is important to note that an interlocutory injunction is one that is done to preserve the status quo so to speak.

Why was this strategy utilized by Ms. Franklin’s legal team? What is an emergency restraining order?

In this case, the legal team for Ms. Franklin sought a temporary restraining order. A temporary restraining order is a form of an interlocutory injunction. This application is made to the court without notice to the other affected parties. Now this occurs where there would be irreparable harm or alternatively where the injury that would be suffered cannot be compensated. A prohibitive injunction prohibits the person to whom it is directed from performing a particular act by commanding that person to refrain from doing or continuing the act in question. The order binds both the direct acts of the person and the indirect acts of the person through agents or employees.

First, the applicant must show that the claim presents a serious question to be tried as to the existence of the right alleged and a breach thereof — actual or reasonably apprehended.

Second, the applicant must establish that, without an injunction, irreparable harm will occur.

In short, it must be shown that:

1)  There is a likelihood of irreparable harm with no adequate remedy at law;

2)  The balance of harm favors the movant;

3)  There is a likelihood of success on the merits of the case; and

4)  The public interest favors the granting of the injunction.

Courts Determination

On the 4th, 2015, the Court issued a temporary restraining order, essentially a prohibitive interlocutory injunction barring the Telluride Film Festival from screening the Film and subsequently TIFF.


What happens after a temporary restraining order?

The very nature of a temporary restraining order means it is made without notice and this can be done pursuant to rule 65 of the Federal Civil Rules as pertains to civil procedure. The temporary restraining order once granted is only effective only for a limited time period. It tends to be in and around 14 days unless the court, decides to extend the time period or the adverse party consents to a longer extension.

After the order is entered, the moving party then informs the other party of the order by serving the documents on them.

According to the court documents, Mr. Elliott, through his counsel, was informed of the Court’s T.R.O. against the Telluride Film Festival, and on later on September 9, 2015 was given a copy of the transcript from the hearing where the Court explained why the Film should not be shown without Aretha Franklin’s consent. Additionally, on September 8, 2015, Mr. Elliott’s counsel agreed via e-mail that Mr. Elliott would not show the Film publicly according to the court document. Mr. Todd W. Musburger stated, “We fully respect the notion that there will be no public showings. You have my word on that.”

So what is currently the problem? What is Ms. Franklin’s team seeking?

The two week restraining order did not resolve the issue at hand over the concert footage. Despite assurances made, Ms. Franklin’s legal team became aware through press inquiries, that Mr. Elliott on the 21st of September was holding a screening of the Film in Toronto for commercial purposes for film executives and others. The screening was allegedly attended by film industry executives for the particular purpose of obtaining a distribution agreement for the Film and this was done without Ms. Franklin’s permission or knowledge, and was contrary to Mr. Elliott’s counsel’s specific representations.

Ms. Franklin’s counsels are currently aiming for:

  1. A declaratory judgment that Mr. Elliott, his agents, employees and all those working in concert with him, be required to get permission/authorization from Ms. Franklin in order to screen, show or project the Film in public or for any intended commercial purposes.
  1. A preliminary and permanent injunction against Mr. Elliott, his agents, employees and all those working in concert with him, barring them from publicly screening, showing or projecting the Film “Amazing Grace,” or any footage from the 1972 gospel concert, or using or showing the Film or any such footage for commercial purposes without the permission of Ms. Franklin. They are claiming this right as per the Quitclaim Agreement that provide her with contractual rights regarding the 1972 footage. Since the preliminary hearing has been heard and a TRO ordered, the next step would be a permanent injunction.
  1. To find Mr. Elliot in violation of a tort. In this particular case, the violation of the common right of publicity which is a state law. In California, the right of publicity protects the use of a person’s name, voice or likeness through 3344(a) of the California Civil Code.
  • What is a tort?

A tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, which the law will redress by an award of damages. Tort is distinguishable from a criminal wrong. In tort law, there rules governing the relationships between the two parties has evolved mostly under common law. To establish a tort, there are elements that must be proved and once that is done, the claimant has a prima facie case and will most likely succeed. There must be a duty of care, then a breach of said duty, whether the claimant suffered damages and if the breach of the duty by the defendant was the causation of said damages

  • Right of Publicity

California’s statute protects against uses of a person’s likeness for advertising purposes. Specifically, the statute prohibits “knowing” use of a person’s name/likeness/etc., on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person’s prior consent.

Ms. Franklin’s team claims use of this footage and other images of Ms. Franklin, without Ms. Franklin’s consent, violate her rights of publicity. They are seeking the injunctive relief and in excess of $75,000, including her attorney fees and costs.  Further, they are seeking punitive and exemplary damages.

  1. To find Mr. Elliot culpable and in contravention of the anti-bootlegging claim.

Bootlegging is dealt with by the federal court.  The United States Code Title 17 Chapter 11 Section 1101(l) provides in pertinent part: (a) Unauthorized Acts.–Anyone who, without the consent of the performer or performers involved— (1) fixes the sounds or sounds and images of a live musical performance in a copy or phonorecord, or reproduces copies or phonorecords of such a performance from an unauthorized fixation, (2) transmits or otherwise communicates to the public the sounds or sounds and images of a live musical performance, or (3) distributes or offers to distribute, sells or offers to sell, rents or offers to rent, or traffics in any copy or phono record fixed as described in paragraph (1), regardless of whether the fixations occurred in the United States, shall be subject to the remedies provided in sections 502 through 505, to the same extent as an infringer of copyright . Ms. Franklin’s team argues that there is no doubt that she is the performer in the footage and Mr. Elliot has expressed his intent to proceed without her consent and thus is in violation.

  1. Find Mr. Elliot in breach of contract as pertains to Ms. Franklin’s position as a third party beneficiary. The Quitclaim Agreement between Warner Brothers Pictures and Defendant stated that Ms. Franklin’s consent was condition precedent to Defendant Elliott using the film footage that he obtained via the agreement. Mr. Elliott has decided to release the Film in violation of the terms of the Quitclaim Agreement for his own commercial gain.

Only time will tell, or the filing of answering documents by Mr. Elliot and his legal party to determine whether or not he has any defence to the claims set out. As the claim is currently set out, it seems highly unlikely that Mr. Elliot will succeed.

Serena Williams:The modern Venus Hottentot

Misogynoir, Body Image and the Sporting World
There are no ifs and buts about it, the majority of Images of black women in media are overwhelmingly negative and fall squarely and even cartoonishly into the various black stereotypes.
Professional status, worldwide sporting achievements and wealth cannot protect one from these archetypes.
Throughout her impressive career Ms. Williams and her sister, have been compared to savages, chiseled men, monkeys, the cartoon character hulk alongside other disgusting slews of characterizations.
Serena Williams is not supposed to be a tennis superstar.
She is not supposed to excel in a sport that has been typically the domain for a white audience and white athletes
She is ought to have packed her bags and given it a rest after the racist debacle that occurred in Indian Wells.
She ought to have a criminal record and fall into line with the various stereotypes and archtypes that have been constructed for her.
She ought to be defined solely by her body and sexuality.
She ought to have public outbursts that mar her wins and make her fall in line with the angry black woman stereotype.
Since she has bucked every expectation that the society and racists have placed on her shoulders, the next best way to establish dominance is naturally to target her is by employing a body shaming narrative.
They have over the years attempted to turn her into a Sara baartmanesque type freak show, viewing her body as something for amusement and something to express disgust at. We see you furiously trying to fit her into a stereotype that denigrates and puts her in her place in society.
Let’s not forget the debacle in 2012, when a supposed close friend, Caroline Worniack decided to attempt to emulate her friend by padding her breasts and buttocks with towels. Yes the good old oversexualized stereotype. Then we can explain away our misogynoir actions by stating it was just a joke. Followed by the standard tearful apology of “I meant no harm, I did not mean to be racist and will as a dutiful person learn from my mistakes”. “Intentions” aside, it was racist.
To Jason Whitlock whose distasteful comments, I can’t even repeat without blowing a blood vessel. We see through your manipulations and cry “SHAME”.
The supposed hypersexuality of a black woman’s anatomy is a ceaseless trope that is always used to get a laugh.
Next in line is the narrative of the brute.
I am sorry that it hurts your delicate racist sensibilities, but there is no way you can attempt to explain away her success in her area of sport. We see through your attempts as to place her squarely in the brute stereotype box. The more you harp and try to rally the conversation around her brute strength, savage strokes, overwhelming power, ferocious, domineering , physical overpowering and other such narratives that pit her against her hapless white rivals, the more we see through your machinations and cry “SHAME”.
In 2014, Shamil Tarpischev a tennis official infamously called the Williams sisters “brothers”. He had the audacity to go as far as saying, “It’s frightening when you look at them. But really you just need to play against the ball.” To this comment we cry “SHAME”.
How can one forget Sid Rosenberg who called Venus Williams an “animal” and remarked that the Williams sisters “would more likely be featured in National Geographic than in Playboy”.
An article written by Ben Rothenburg of the New York Times is yet just another recent example of this. The article is supposedly about body image but read as an open season bash on Ms. Williams. He refers to Ms. Williams as having “large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years”.
Insultingly, he then goes on to add that, “ Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to”.

The article in painstaking detail goes on to juxtapose Ms. Williams with her other white rivals.
“It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10,” said Tomasz Wiktorowski, the coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, who is listed at 5 feet 8 and 123 pounds.“Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.”

Um Ok Brah? 
Well, now that we are done with the brute stereotype, it is time to disparage her accomplishments by making allegations in the face of reality.
Then comes along, David Frum, a neoconservative Canadian-American political commentator and a former speech writer to President George W. Bush. He had the temerity to assert quite forcefully that Ms. Williams has been using steroids. Why? Quite obvious to Mr. Frum, who believes that anyone with eyes would agree with his point of view, is simply her body. His tweets read, “Steriods? Oh no no no, “Body image issues”.
Again, against all logic, he fails to take into consideration that she is one of the most frequently drug tested players in men’s or women’s tennis. In 2014 only, according to the figures provided by International Tennis Federation (ITF), Ms. Williams was tested four to six times during competition and more than seven times outside of competition. Ms. Williams has never been implicated in the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs or other drugs much to the disappointment of Chris Evert and Pam Shriver.
Ms. Shriver had the gall to say during the Wimbledon doubles match in 2014 that, “It’s almost like she has taken something that makes her feel dizzy, disoriented, and she cannot reach up and strike the ball.”
Evert even questioned Williams’ intent “Is it a virus? Is it something unintentional or intentional in her system that they may drug test for?”
Why is this important you ask? Why should we care?

Lambardo succinctly puts it as it is an attempt to intentionally separate her as African American from intellectualism which in turn removes her from equal status in society. It insidiously attempts to mar her accomplishments by attributing it to genetic superiority while excluding her hard work. It propagates the racist undertones and overtones that mar relationships in society. James Mckay and Heather Johnson argue that it is time for a new critical race consciousness that can inform sporting commentary and media narratives to enable African American women and men to envision and achieve equality within a broader framework of social justice. I for one agree.
It is arguable that no social institution garners as much media attention as sports do. Everybody at some point in their lives has been involved in sport whether it be via direct participation or as a spectator. There is no need for me to extol the importance on sports, there is no controversy there. It is a field that arguable unites people in spite of racial makeup. This is a perfect arena to combat issues of racism and sexism. With time, it is hoped that the changes in this arena would have wide reaching consequences.
For many years, there have been alarming trends in the reduction of young girls and women who are participating in sport. At a women and sports conference I recently attended in Quebec, I heard from Chandra Crawford, a gold medal Olympian that young girls are 6 times more likely than their male counterparts to drop out of sports. So much work is been done to ensure more participation and integration, through campaigns such as This Girl Can, NGO’s Fast and Female (Shameless Plug, Look into supporting Ms. Crawford’s NGO. She is so awesome!) and the tireless work done by associations such as the Canadian Association for Advancement of Women and Sport (CAAWS) just to name a few.
It is infuriating to see such hard work being countered by stupid, Yes STUPID articles in the media. It is infuriating to think of all the girls of colour who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of being demonized, sexualized and harassed.
Enough body shaming
Enough stereotypes promotion
Enough attempting to place femininity within the narrow grounds of the Eurocentric standard of beauty.
To Ms. Williams, we stand behind you in sisterhood. We applaud all your achievements.
We thank you for showing us that women can excel in sports
We thank you for showing us with flair how to hold our heads high in the face of adversity and racism.
We thank you for being an example of mental strength in the face of decades of taunts.
We thank you for showing us that although many may be against us, focus on the price and hard work pays off.
We thank you for showing us that it is ok to have different body types, and the importance of placing health and a competitive spirit over societal expectations of what we ought to look like.
We thank you for being a black women who wears confidence as surely as the hair on her head and showing us that although our bodies in the media will always be dissected, it is perfectly ok to be different and cherish ourselves as we are.
We thank you for embracing your body and unapologetically so. 
As my good friend would say #unbothered.

To Mr. Rothenberg, the next time you want to write an article on body images in tennis, I suggest you stay away from inflammatory anecdotes and focus more on diet, workout strategies and focus tactics. You’re welcome.
Please spare us the often pulled out card of ” I didnt mean for it to be racist or offensive”. Just do better! As for the editors that determined the article was appropriate enough to print, I am still in disbelief.
We ought to do better.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12:  Serena Williams attends the Wimbledon Champions Dinner at The Guildhall on July 12, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Serena Williams attends the Wimbledon Champions Dinner at The Guildhall on July 12, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)